MPI warns seafood sold on­line is ris­ing

Waitaki Herald - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - RYAN DUN­LOP

The in­creas­ing amount of seafood sold il­le­gally on­line is part of the grow­ing trend of sell­ing goods on so­cial me­dia, the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) says.

New fig­ures re­leased by MPI on Wed­nes­day showed that com­plaints about il­le­gal seafood sales in the Can­ter­bury and West­land area were at their high­est level in three years, up from two in 2016 to eight for the year to date.

Na­tion­ally com­plaints had been in­creas­ing sub­stan­tially year on year.

MPI had al­ready re­ceived 164 com­plaints this year, up from 96 for all of last year, and 56 the year be­fore.

MPI man­ager of com­pli­ance in­ves­ti­ga­tions Gary Orr said peo­ple who were sell­ing seafood il­le­gally un­der­stood it gave them ‘‘a plat­form to reach a lot more peo­ple’’ and ‘‘it re­flects that a lot of trans­ac­tions oc­cur on so­cial me­dia’’, Orr said.

‘‘Peo­ple see it as an op­por­tu­nity.’’

There were two rea­sons for the in­crease in com­plaints; a more proac­tive pub­lic and op­por­tunis­tic sell­ers, Orr said.

‘‘Peo­ple are get­ting in be­hind [rais­ing the is­sue]. It’s about sus­tain­abil­ity and we are ap­pre­cia­tive of it.

‘‘It is dis­ap­point­ing there is a sec­tor of the com­mu­nity that uses seafood to ex­ploit our fish­eries.’’

For buy­ers, it was not just an il­le­gal trans­ac­tion that they could be fined for, it was also a health risk

‘‘If you are look­ing at a sack of mus­sels from the West Coast that has trav­elled in a hot boot be­fore you buy them then you have to ask is it worth the risk? Prob­a­bly not.’’

MPI’s de­ci­sion on whether to fine or not de­pended on in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances, Orr said.

MPI fish­eries com­pli­ance man­ager

‘‘It is dis­ap­point­ing there is a sec­tor of the com­mu­nity that uses seafood to ex­ploit our fish­eries.’’ MPI man­ager of com­pli­ance in­ves­ti­ga­tions Gary Orr

Greg Keys said it ex­pected to see an in­crease in il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity as warmer weather set in.

Every in­ci­dent re­ported was fol­lowed up, he said.

Sell­ing on so­cial me­dia was ‘‘sim­ply another ve­hi­cle that peo­ple use to il­le­gally sell recre­ational catch’’.

Buy­ing and sell­ing recre­ation­ally caught seafood was against the law, Keys said.

Such of­fences against the Fish­eries Act could re­sult in fines up to $250,000.

Seafood sold il­le­gally on­line is part of a grow­ing trend of sell­ing goods on so­cial me­dia.

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